How to Choose an HVAC Training Course near Anniston Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Anniston AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Some future students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC technical school, let’s look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional in Anniston AL
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Anniston AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it’s imperative that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a number of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, typically accomplished in as little as six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Anniston AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to finish, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Anniston AL, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option in obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Anniston AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Anniston and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Schools near Anniston AL
As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you desire to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Anniston AL area and all over the United States to choose from. That’s why it is very important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial two variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Anniston AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It’s also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Anniston AL HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Anniston AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Anniston AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Anniston AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Anniston AL, check that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Attending HVAC School near Anniston AL?
Anniston is a city in Calhoun County in the state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 23,106. According to 2013 Census estimates, the city had a population of 22,666. The city is the county seat of Calhoun County and one of two urban centers/principal cities of and included in the Anniston-Oxford Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Though the surrounding area was settled much earlier, the mineral resources in the area of Anniston were not exploited until the Civil War. The Confederate States of America then operated an iron furnace near present-day downtown Anniston, until it was finally destroyed by raiding Union cavalry in early 1865. Later, cast iron for sewer systems became the focus of Anniston's industrial output. Cast iron pipe, also called soil pipe, was popular until the advent of plastic pipe in the 1960s.
In 1872, the Woodstock Iron Company, organized by Samuel Noble and Union Gen. Daniel Tyler, rebuilt the furnace on a much larger scale, and started a planned community named Woodstock, soon renamed "Annie's Town" for Annie Scott Tyler, Daniel's daughter and wife of railroad president Alfred L. Tyler. Anniston was chartered as a town in 1873.
Pick the Right HVAC Training Course near Anniston AL
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you need to choose a trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to look for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you’ll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Anniston AL.
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